Recruitment is the gateway to organizational success. Everyone wins when an employer hires the right candidates to fit their culture and goals. However, the recruitment process is more complex than simply identifying and hiring the best talent.
Talent acquisition is a multi-step process requiring a well-thought-out strategy that addresses both immediate needs and long-term goals. A well-thought-out and structured approach to hiring decreases recruitment costs, reduces turnover, and promotes employee engagement.
This guide explains recruiting basics and identifies key steps for designing an employee recruitment process that propels your organization forward and distinguishes you as a desirable employer. In particular, we’ll cover:
- Employee Recruitment: Frequently Asked Questions
- How the Employee Recruitment Process Works
- 4 Best Practices for a Stronger Recruitment Process
Employee Recruitment: Frequently Asked Questions
There are many aspects to a robust recruitment effort, but it is critical to understand the fundamentals before you build a strategy best suited to your organization.
In this section, we address some employee recruitment basics.
What is employee recruitment?
Simply put, employee recruitment is the process of identifying your organization’s talent needs, attracting candidates, and selecting the individuals that best satisfy your criteria. But this high-level definition does not fully explain employee recruitment’s importance or impact on an organization’s long-term success.
It is the people that make an organization successful. So, having the right people in the right jobs is critical – from the C-suite to managers to staff positions. Each new hire supports and builds upon your culture and has the potential to take your organization in new and exciting directions.
Hiring must be deliberate and well thought out. Recruiting individuals dedicated to your values and goals will bolster a positive work environment, advance productivity and performance, and increase retention rates.
What are the different approaches to employee recruitment?
There are many paths to sourcing and hiring great candidates. Every organization and hiring manager must assess their needs and determine what methods for recruiting will identify the best candidates with the proper skill set that will also align with their culture and values.
Here are some of the top recruiting methods:
- Internal Candidates
- Leverages known talent
- Taps into pathways for growth within the organization
- Upskills current employees
- Demonstrates investment in the existing workforce
- Minimizes cost
- Provides for a potential internship program that creates a pipeline for future entry-level positions
- Employee Referrals
- Relies on endorsements by current employees
- Builds on existing connections to the organization
- Engenders trust in the current workforce’s opinions and recommendations
- Provides for a potential referral/reward program
- Related to employee referrals, but includes former employees, customers, and others with a connection to the organization
- Relies on external branding and community reputation
- May reveal opinions that help inform the process
- Portals and Career Websites
- Reaches a high volume of job seekers
- Better suited for entry and mid-level than high-level positions
- Requires a platform that has a screening process that enhances the quality/fit of candidates, as the number of applicants may overload the ability to screen for qualified candidates
- Requires you to be thoughtful with keyword parameters so you don’t exclude quality candidates
- Passive Candidate Sourcing
- Proactively reaches out to potentially qualified individuals that are not necessarily on the job market
- Creates opportunity for more targeted candidate referrals
- Actively searches social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, and utilizes professional organizations and associations, corporate events, and other networking opportunities
- Creates a pipeline for future hiring
- External Recruiter or Professional Search Process
- Acknowledges the pool of quality leadership candidates is often limited
- Empowers you to search for individuals who possess the specialized skills and experience to be successful in these challenging positions
- Connects you with experts specialized in executive searches
Typically, a robust employee recruitment process will take advantage of several channels.
When considering which avenues to pursue, do not underestimate the hidden potential of reaching out to individuals content with their current situation – those not looking for a new job. Career research site Zippia recently reported that “73% of potential candidates are passive job seekers who are currently employed and open to hearing about new job opportunities but also too hesitant to apply.”
Remember that the fundamentals of your recruitment process will remain constant for most positions. Still, some openings may require tweaking your standard operating procedure to focus on particular attributes or credentials.
Who is involved in the recruitment process?
Attracting and hiring the right people to build your team is more than just a Human Resources priority. Successful recruitment that leads to productive, engaged, long-term employees requires input from key stakeholders, including:
- Hiring managers who identify the need for a new hire due to a vacancy in an existing position or the creation of a new role. They give vital input into the job’s essential functions and the qualifications a successful candidate must possess. HR should work with hiring managers at all process stages, from devising job descriptions to making offers.
- Human Resources managers or Human Resources consultants, who work with hiring managers and other interested parties to create job postings, determine the best avenues for sourcing talent, conduct initial screenings of candidates, schedule interviews, and follow up with candidates. The duties that fall under HR will differ from organization to organization, and how much of the process they own will be determined based on company culture, HR resources and bandwidth, and hiring budgets. Organizations sometimes engage HR consultants specializing in recruitment or talent acquisition to guide the process or assume these functions.
- Interviewers, who will work with HR and hiring managers to identify and coordinate what information to elicit from interviews; legal guidelines; who will be asking technical questions, behavioral questions, and questions to assess cultural fit and in alignment with DEIA practices. They will also help to determine how the information is aggregated. Interviewers may include:
- Internal or external Recruiters and/or HR Consultants
- Hiring Managers
- Employees holding the same or similar roles as the open position
- Managers from departments that will have regular interaction with the role
- Executive Management, if relevant to filling the position
- Executives or decision makers identify finalists and ultimately who will be hired. If the open position is of a high- level, executive management may participate in the interviews and have input or the final say regarding which candidate will be offered the job, and who will extend the offer.
The search process may reveal numerous candidates with the basic skills and knowledge to perform well in your advertised position. Identifying who among them will be the most successful in your organization takes a team effort.
How the Employee Recruitment Process Works
Recruiting quality candidates is competitive – everyone wants to hire the best talent. To shine in this area, your organization must create a robust, consistent process that generates compelling job posts, hones in on the most effective ways to share those posts, engages in well-planned interviewing, and commits to acclimating new hires.
While each organization will tailor their employee recruitment process to meet their point of view, here are some general steps that every employer will want to follow.
1. Identify vacancies you need to fill.
A variety of circumstances can trigger the need to make a new hire – some you can plan for, and others may come as a surprise. Here are some common examples:
- Voluntary Turnover
- Terminations for Cause
- Reorganizations (e.g., downsizing, merger)
- Business Expansion
No matter the reason, hiring managers typically want to fill their positions quickly. While speed is a factor, every opportunity to hire a new team member is critical. At this point, leadership and hiring managers, possibly with the expertise of an HR consultant, should take a moment to reflect on organizational and team needs. Whether to hire immediately and make the right hire should satisfy not only immediate demands but tomorrow’s as well.
Through such a lens, initial requests may be modified to upgrade the original position or expand the team to meet the demands of a growing organization. You can continuously evaluate open positions against the organization’s direction to align recruiting efforts with business needs and critical skills gaps.
2. Write thorough job descriptions.
The starting point for any solid hire is a well-written, thorough job description. Comprehensive job descriptions are essential for recruiting and retaining satisfied, long-term employees because they impact almost every aspect of people management.
Job descriptions play a critical role in defining the essential functions of a position. From a compliance standpoint, job descriptions need to specifically define the responsibilities and the functional expertise required for a role and serve as a guide for setting expectations for recruiting and performance management.
Beyond the day-to-day, job descriptions serve a broader purpose by making the connection between individuals and the larger organization. When certain key information is included, job descriptions:
- Demonstrate how and where the individual aligns with organizational goals and needs
- Are a tool for measuring performance
- Outline potential vertical and horizontal pathways for job advancement within the organization
- Inform total rewards strategies and salary ranges
The essential elements to include in any job description are:
- Essential functions (daily tasks, expectations, and responsibilities)
- Nature of the role (full-time, part-time, consultant, or independent contractor)
- FLSA status (salaried, hourly, or over-time eligible)
- Experience and education requirements
- Specific skills or physical requirements
- Work location (office, remote, or hybrid)
- Work schedule
- Any travel requirements
Additionally, all job descriptions should include a concluding statement that the position may not be limited to the duties listed in the job description as unplanned and additional assignments may fall within the position’s responsibilities.
3. Share your job posting.
With job descriptions in place, you have a strong starting point for drafting a job posting. In most instances, your posting will be a candidate’s introduction to your organization, so the content and language used should accurately reflect your organization and brand. You should also showcase the job function and your culture, vision, and organizational accomplishments.
In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, holding a candidate’s interest with shorter, creative posts is important. Use various ways of reaching the widest audience (e.g., traditional written advertisements, videos, blogs, and social media posts).
Strategically select where you will share your job posting. Depending on the nature of the open position, broad-based job boards and recruiting sites may serve your purpose, but when highly-skilled or professionally-credentialed candidates are sought, you may need to refine your search and look toward more focused recruiting resources. This approach is particularly important when embarking on an executive search.
4. Collect and screen job applications and resumes.
Not everyone responding to your job posting will proceed to the interview phase. Each application received must be vetted to ensure that the candidate is qualified for the job, and setting up a well-planned screening process will facilitate sorting resumes and identifying who should be contacted for interviews.
Some best practices for screening resumes and applications include:
- Referring back to the job description and post for the best matches
- Use an applicant tracking system (i.e., ATS software) or create a chart to record applications and relevant details such as experience and education
- Separate applicants into three groups: those contacted for interviews (the Meets-Criteria Group), those held in reserve if the first group does not work out (the Possible Group), and those in whom the organization is not interested (the Declined Group)
- Conduct introductory phone calls with the Meets-Criteria group to confirm the information provided on the application and set up initial interviews
When sorting the submissions into groups, it helps to focus on whether each applicant possesses experience that is critical to the job, is job-specific, or is just nice to have.
Even though the number of applicants may seem daunting at times, with a consistent screening process in place, the review will be more manageable, and all applicants will be treated similarly and fairly.
5. Conduct interviews and any needed assessments.
With your shortlist in hand, it is time to conduct interviews. Prepare a schedule that establishes the number of interview rounds that will occur and identifies how many company representatives will participate in each round.
A standard set of questions should be compiled. The conversation should include a mix of open and closed questions. Concentrate on diving deeper into the applicant’s background and interests and what they will bring to your organization. Ensure the topics discussed do not violate local, state, or federal employment laws.
Always allow the interviewee to ask questions. What they are interested in gives you additional insight into their perspective and what they value. Allowing time for their questions also demonstrates that their concerns are significant.
In advanced rounds of interviews, it may be beneficial to ask candidates what expectations or criteria must be met for them to consider accepting an offer (e.g., expected salary, benefits, or work schedule/conditions/location). This information will help you formulate an offer that is more likely to be accepted if you determine that they are the person you want for the job.
Remember that interviews are a two-way street. As you evaluate each candidate, they are also assessing your organization and gauging your work environment. So, it is equally important for the organization to put its best foot forward.
Consistently extend a cordial welcome to candidates at the commencement of every interview, providing virtual tours when remote (ensuring a balance between security and proprietary information), and facilitating introductions to staff members across various tiers. This approach enables them to grasp your organizational ambiance, leadership approach, and day-to-day functioning, regardless of whether the interaction occurs in person or remotely.
The interview phase is also the appropriate time to administer any necessary skill assessments and request work samples but confirm that any testing complies with applicable employment laws.
6. Check references.
Once you have narrowed your list to a few finalists (typically two or three), you will want to elicit feedback from outside the organization. Reference checks will provide context and deeper insight into the candidate’s suitability for the role.
Ask candidates to identify at least three references and specify the most relevant reference type. Gather the reference’s contact information and utilize the reference’s preferred mode of communication to increase the chance that they will promptly and amicably respond.
Develop questions for these interactions before reaching out. Confirm the candidate’s experience and background. Also include questions grounded in any concerns raised by the interview team or any follow-up items they would like to know more about.
Start the conversation by gaining an understanding of this person’s relationship with the candidate. Describe the position for which the candidate is being considered and request the interviewee’s opinion on how the candidate will perform. Ask open-ended but pointed questions. Attentively listen to responses to glean the most information.
Keep in mind that many organizations do not allow employees to provide references. They may require all inquiries to be directed to HR, where only proof of employment will be provided. In these situations, you may request additional references or contact professional contacts who have interacted with your preferred candidate.
7. Decide who you’re going to hire.
Now you are ready to select one candidate and make an offer. Each organization must decide who will be making the hiring decision. In some organizations, it is the hiring manager; in others, a team – typically comprised of the hiring manager, the hiring manager’s supervisor, HR, and other interested parties – will reach a consensus.
Regardless of approach, the decision maker(s) should compare and contrast candidate strengths and weaknesses, assess each applicant’s potential for success in the role and as part of the organization’s future, and rank the candidates according to their preferences. Ranking will allow the organization to pivot to an alternative candidate if the front-runner declines.
If a team approach is taken, all team members need to listen to each other and allow for expressing and hearing all viewpoints. Be sure to listen for and avoid biases. The decision makers must agree so the new hire has the best chance of fully integrating into the organization and succeeding.
8. Extend job offers.
Now it is time to invite the selected individual to join your team. It is best practice to make a verbal offer in person or over the phone. Detailed information about the offer will be provided in a follow-up email or formal letter.
After extending an offer, the potential new hire may have questions and want to negotiate salary or benefits (e.g., additional time off or tuition reimbursement). If your organization cannot meet a particular request, consider extending alternative perqs that fit into your total rewards program and might convince the candidate to accept.
9. Begin the onboarding process.
Now that you have finalized all the details with your new employee, recruitment transitions to onboarding. Onboarding is the process of introducing the new employee to their role and the overall organization. For long-term retention, employees need to start on the right foot.
According to Apollo Technical, 33% of employees quit after the first six months. An official onboarding process can set the tone for the entire employee experience, alleviating much of the anxiety and confusion new employees feel when joining an organization.
Onboarding begins immediately upon acceptance of the offer. A new hire’s assimilation starts with frequent and informative communication about their start date, what to expect when on the first day, contact information for any questions, and sharing forms that need to be completed.
Effective onboarding procedures extend beyond a one-time orientation, often lasting months into a new hire’s introductory period. Each onboarding experience will be slightly different based on the position, the needs of the individual, and how individuals learn best.
Key features of successful onboarding include frequent and meaningful communication with the new employee, scheduled on-site or self-paced training, introductory meetings with players central to the new hire’s success (e.g., co-workers, clients, various levels of management, etc.), a mentor or buddy system, and feedback mechanisms to identify additional integration needs and ways to improve the onboarding process.
4 Best Practices for a Strong Recruitment Process
Because every employer is unique, recruitment philosophies and procedures will be customized to fit their environment. Still, despite these innate differences, every organization should incorporate the following best practices to build a strong foundation for their employee recruitment efforts.
1. Strengthen and communicate your employer brand.
Today’s employees want to work for organizations that align with their values and have a reputation for contributing to the community and the greater good. The impression potential employees have of your organization often stems from the brand you present in the marketplace. Still, you must go beyond that and communicate an employee value proposition (EVP) that encourages job seekers to want to be associated with your organization.
2. Look for candidates who identify with your organizational values.
Incorporating your values and standards into your job postings will attract individuals who identify with your organization’s perspective. Such applicants are more likely to mesh with your culture, making for a smoother onboarding process and increasing the likelihood of long-term employment.
3. Expand your sourcing channels to reach a diverse pool of candidates.
Rethink where you advertise for candidates, especially if your DEI priorities include diversifying your workforce. Ensure that you are promoting your positions on channels utilized by your target audiences and the strategy is broad enough to include professional organizations, job boards, and social media platforms that are new to your organization.
4. Work with an HR consultant.
Establishing and deploying effective employee recruitment strategies is time-consuming and overwhelming, depending on available internal resources. HR consultants with expertise in recruitment strategies and talent sourcing can ease this burden, primarily when focusing on executive leadership.
RealHR’s experts assist clients in meeting their recruitment challenges wherever they are in the process. We can be as involved as needed – taking the lead or providing support to find the best talent. We work with our clients to create a consulting arrangement that meets their needs and takes into account their available resources.
You need to hire the right people to build a successful business and a supportive work environment. With stiff competition for the best talent, a plan is critical. Winning organizations understand the value of comprehensive employee recruitment strategies that reflect the times and marketplace, address the recruiting needs today, and help prepare for the future.
Ready to read on? Explore these recommended resources:
- Employee Retention: Best Practices & 7 Key Steps for 2022. Once you’ve recruited top talent, you want them to stick around for the long term. Learn how to boost retention in this quick guide.
- HR Audit: Free Checklist & Tips for Getting Started. Want to get a better idea of how HR is functioning in your organization? Consider an HR audit. Learn the basics here.
- HR Assessments 101: What You Should Know & How to Begin. An HR assessment helps you take a holistic view of your HR practices. Learn more in this guide.